Treat your loved ones without guilt to these low-carb, gluten-free and sugar-free Linzer hearts! These spectacular cookies are perfect for Valentine’s Day, or anytime when you want to indulge yourself or bring some happiness to the people around you. And the best part: you need only 5 ingredients for these tasty tidbits!
Low-Carb Linzer Hearts (Egg-Free)
2 cups = 480 ml almond flour 1/2 cup = 120 ml (+ some for dusting) Confectioner’s Style Swerve (or other powdered sweetener) grated yellow zest from 1 organic lemon 2.5 oz = 70 g cream cheese commercial or home-made sugar-free raspberry jam
Preheat the oven to 250 °F or slightly lower (100 °C).
Put the almond flour in a large bowl. Sift in the sweetener and mix well.
Add the lemon zest and the cream cheese. Mix and knead until smooth.
Divide the dough in 2–3 pieces. Take one piece at a time for handling. Keep the rest of the dough covered.
Place a piece of dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place another parchment paper on the dough.
Roll out the dough until it is approximately 1/6 inch (0.4 cm) thick and remove the topmost parchment paper. Using a round (fluted) cookie cutter, cut out the cookies.
Transfer the cookies with a spatula or cheese slicer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Using a smaller cookie cutter (heart, round, star, etc.), cut out the centers of half of the cookies on the baking sheet. Repeat rolling and cutting with the other piece(s) of the dough. Combine the scraps, reroll and cut. Repeat this until there is no dough left.
Bake for 30–40 minutes, or until golden brown but not too brown. Let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.
Assembling: Place the top cookies (those with the center removed) on a baking sheet and dust them with the sweetener.
Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam on the bottom cookies (the whole cookies).
Place the dusted top cookies on top and very gently press the tops and bottoms together.
Store the assembled cookies in an airtight container.
Per cookie if 20 cookies in total:
Tips for making the Low-Carb Linzer Hearts
The dough is a cinch to make. It doesn’t even need any chilling. One advice though: it is as well to sift the sweetener so that it doesn’t form any lumps. Sifting is faster than trying to break the lumps with your fingers from the ready dough… Believe me!
Once again, when grating the lemon zest it’s important to avoid the white pith. A small grater works best, at least for me. Be sure to choose a lemon that is firm. The zest is easier to grate from a firm lemon than from a soft and ripe lemon.
I recommend to use fresh lemon zest. I have to confess that once I was too lazy to grate any lemon zest and used lemon peel granules instead. It didn’t pay off. It didn’t bring the characteristic, fresh flavor, which is a must for these cookies. To be honest, those lemon peel granules gave a musty flavor. And that we don’t want to have here. It’s Valentine’s Day anyway, so you want to do your best. Don’t you?
You can place the cookies quite close to each other on the baking sheet since they won’t rise in the oven. It might be a good idea to bake the tops and bottoms separately, if you have time for that. The tops don’t need that long baking time because they simply have less dough than the bottom parts. At least in my oven the bottoms need 5–10 minutes more than the top cookies.
The cookies are crunchy, but the filled cookies will soften when stored. If you prefer your cookies crunchy, assemble them just before serving.
I used a 1 7/8 inch (48 mm) cookie cutter. The yield was 20 Linzer hearts (i.e. 20 tops and 20 bottoms).
My experiments with the Low-Carb Linzer Hearts
I was pondering different options for Valentine’s Day treats. Somehow Linzer hearts popped in my head. They are delicious and pretty as a picture. Well, I would take pictures from them anyway.
Yes, Linzer hearts it was. So what do I need then? Almond flour, definitely. Sweetener,of course. Zsweet sweetener for baking — the combination of powdered erythritol and stevia — was a natural choice because I could use it also for dusting the cookies. I was also hoping that it makes the dough smoother than what erythritol crystals would do.
Spices were still missing from my ingredients list. To my knowledge the original Linzer hearts contain lemon zest. That’s what I also wanted to try. Since freshly grated lemon zest has the best flavor, that was a natural choice for me. Well, first I used those lemon peel granules about which I already told. The resulting cookies were mainly tasting bland, uninteresting and musty. So once again, please do yourself and your loved ones a favor and use freshly grated lemon zest. Please.
I still needed something for binding the dough. Since cream cheese had brought so great results in my previous cookie experiments — like in my Chewy Ginger Cookies — I wanted to give it a try here as well. The dough was easy to handle, a bit sticky though, and the resulting cookies were somehow too chewy. Well, it’s difficult to explain, but the texture wasn’t what I was looking for. So I guess I had a bit too much cream cheese. I used 3 oz (85 g).
In my next experiment I used 0.5 oz (15 g) less cream cheese and had lower oven temperature. Now the dough was even easier to handle and the texture was great. I still wanted to try out what happens if I reduce the amount of cream cheese by 0.5 oz (15 g) using altogether 2 oz (60 g), but the dough was a bit too hard and crumbly.
I still made one experiment using whole egg instead of cream cheese. The dough was incredibly easy to handle, but the cookies didn’t taste that great. Cream cheese brought really elegant flavor together with the lemon zest.
Tips for variation
Instead of — or in addition to — lemon zest you can use your favorite spices, or some of the followings:
By the way, the cut-out centers are great for decorating desserts.
Next week I’m going to publish a recipe for incredibly easy and super yummy sugar-free raspberry jam, which you can use also for these Low-Carb Linzer Hearts. It reduces the amount of carbs per cookie by 2.6 grams! I was planning to publish it here as a bonus recipe, but it simply deserves a blog post of its own. Stay tuned…
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